Our mission is to use science, technology and engineering to develop persistent curiosity and to show that knowledge is empowering.
What is Family Computer Science?
Family Computer Science is a series of 5 hands-on workshops for underserved elementary and middle school students and their entire families. We leverage the high motivation and interest parents have in their child’s education to support our efforts. We also ensure that we are steadily educating and empowering the parents so that they continue the work we start in our programs.The goal is to form a lasting partnership with the student and parent, over which we work together to improve the child’s curiosity, courage, persistence and problem solving.
The course is designed to teach students and their families about technology through programming using Scratch. Scratch is a block-based language that is easy to learn and is accessible to everyone. The Family Computer Science program is currently offered in Boston, MA.
What does a Family Science Session look like?
Each Family Computer Science workshop is two hours long and held once a week. The entire family is invited to attend and participate in the program (including parents and younger or older siblings). The families will learn about technology by programming using Scratch. A teacher or school administrator is usually present, and a Spanish-speaking instructor is present to translate instruction for non-English speaking families. Formative assessments are conducted in every session, along with pre- and post- assessments conducted before and after the course, to evaluate knowledge transfer.
The first 10 minutes are spent in direct instruction, where the engineers introduce a computer science concept. The instructor then guides the families through an activity to familiarize them with the concept. The families then work on developing their own project. Each family decides on a meaningful project for them, leading to self-motivated learning of parents and children alongside each other. The last 15 minutes of the session are spent on reflection and filling out the evaluation questions that check for participant understanding.
Why is learning computer science important?
In today’s technologically driven world, technological fluency is critical to students’ future success. That means not only knowing how to interact with a computer, but to also create with it. This requires computer science and computational thinking. As defined by the National Research Council, computational thinking involves intellectual capabilities such as sustained reasoning, testing solutions, organizing and evaluating information, collaborating, and communicating to outside audiences– all of which are relevant outside of the field of computer science. As their 2010 report states, “computational thinking is a fundamental analytical skill that everyone, not just computer scientists, can use to help solve problems, design systems, and understand human behavior.
Past Success and Impact
Family Computer Science is based off of another successful program called the Family Science. Family Science has been running successfully for 5 years. Through regular pre and post-tests during the program, we have observed that participants gain >40% in terminology and understanding scientific processes. 74% of children reported being less averse to challenges and challenging activities. 78% of parents reported that they understand science and engineering better and are more confident because their children see them as people who know things, who can build things and who can solve problems. Two thirds of children reported that they are doing more science related activities with their families.
This program is held in partnership with MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group.